How to Sleep Safely While Pregnant
How to Sleep Safely While Pregnant
Are you a back, stomach or side sleeper? Based on how you normally snooze through the night, you may need to rethink your favourite position when you are expecting. To avoid blocking blood flow to baby, experts recommend sleeping on your left side when pregnant.
Not your preferred sleep position? You won’t need to change things up till you hit the second trimester. “Before 12 weeks, you are able to sleep any way you want,” says Sara Twogood, MD, an ob-gyn in the University of Southern California and founder of the healthcare package service Après Push. “A lot of women have breast tenderness or sensitivity, so many are not comfortable sleeping on their stomachs early on. However, it’s just discomfort–it will not cause any harm.” As your pregnancy progresses, however, sleeping on your stomach and back may get uncomfortable quickly.
Here’s what you need to know about every common sleeping position during the course of your pregnancy:
SLEEPING ON YOUR BACK DURING PREGNANCY
Between 15 and 20 weeks gestation, the uterus begins becoming big enough to interfere with blood circulation when you sleep on your back. It can compress the inferior vena cava (IVC), a large vein that runs up the right side of your vertebral column and carries deoxygenated blood from the lower and middle body into the center. Back sleeping may also constrict the aorta, blocking off the main blood supply to your body and placenta. Because of this,”Sleeping on your back can reduce the flow of blood to the heart, so the mom may wake up feeling short of breath or as if her heart is racing,” says Amelia Henning, CNM, a team midwife at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
SLEEPING ON YOUR STOMACH DURING PREGNANCY
Sleeping on your stomach is fine in morning –but sooner or later you will have to turn over. “Generally, it is okay until the stomach is growing, which can be between 16 and 18 weeks, depending on how large the stomach gets and how fast,” Henning says. As soon as your bulge starts to reveal, stomach sleeping gets pretty uncomfortable for the majority of women. But avoiding your tummy is not just about what feels good–it is also for security reasons. “Sleeping flat on your stomach has the exact same negative effects as sleeping on your back,” Twogood says, explaining that sleeping on your stomach can cause your baby bump to move within your stomach and push against the aorta and IVC.
SLEEPING ON YOUR SIDE DURING PREGNANCY
Spending the night in your side–especially the left side–is the best sleep position during pregnancy. “That is to get all of the burden of the uterus off the perfect side to optimize blood circulation,” Twogood states. “It is also for the relaxation of the mother.” Sleeping on your right side can still compress the IVC and is not as secure as being on your left, but using pillows to prop up the uterus so that it’s not slipping to the right side can sometimes be an alternative, she adds.
Needless to say, if you have been a tummy or back snoozer all of your life, shifting to your left side can be difficult. “I totally recommend getting a pregnancy body pillow and getting it ” Twogood states. “You need to maximize its use during pregnancy, playing its rankings and [researching ] how it can encourage you best. You could even use it under your legs to reduce any leg or hip pain during sleep.” If you still can not comfortably make the switch to your side, use pillows to prop yourself into an incline. Sleeping on your back in a 45-degree tilt can stop a whole lot of the compression.
It’s not unusual to fall asleep in your left side and wake up in a completely different position. If you wake up in your spine, do not panic. “You probably were not there for very long,” Henning says, because your body adjusts to prevent uncomfortable sleep positions. “If you are in your back and in the third trimester, it is going to compress the blood circulation and cause you to feel bad fast, so you are going to wake up and would not have been lying on your back long enough to compromise the blood flow to your baby.” Should you continue to wake up in your back, stomach or right side and are concerned about it, ask your spouse to check on you, Twogood suggests. If they wake up and notice you in your spine, they can gently move you back to your left side.